Cheil Worldwide acquires Barbarian Group

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Cheil Worldwide, a Korea-based agency, acquired a majority stake in New York-based digital firm The Barbarian Group this week. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Barbarian, founded in 2001, will keep its brand and office. Its three founders will continue to run the company. The deal, signed December 2, is expected to close next week.

“We want to be bolder and more capable, and we are excited that Cheil can provide that opportunity for us,” said Rick Webb, co-founder and COO of Barbarian, in a blog post.

The acquisition of Barbarian, known for pushing the envelope in creative campaigns, including Burger King's “Subservient Chicken” video and the Virgin America "Name our Planes" campaign, is part of Cheil's long-term growth plans, as the group looks to do more business in the US, according to a company statement.

Cheil, which was ranked as the 16th-largest agency company in the world by Advertising Age, has offices in 25 countries, as well as in New Jersey and Dallas. Yet this deal gives the company a New York presences for the first time.

AdMedia Partners, a mergers and acquisitions adviser, aided Cheil during the acquisition process.

“Cheil was looking to buy a well-known and well-regarded agency in the US, particularly in New York, and the Barbarian Group rose to the top of the heap as the eminent creative shop that had some scale in the city,” said Seth Alpert, managing director of AdMedia.

He added: “For Cheil, it is really about expanding capabilities and reputation, and for the Barbarian Group, it is about having access to more capital and the ability to do things on a global scale.”

Representatives from Cheil and Barbarian could not be immediately reached for comment.

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